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Wednesday 4 March 2020

Step Away From That "Matronly" Skirt

Over-50s blogger Gail Hanlon in several skirts trying to disprove the view from Susannah Constantine that skirts are matronly

Dear friends. Shocking news - some of our over-50s role models have criticized skirts as "matronly," except when worn in a floaty summer way by young people!

Yes, this appalling broadside was delivered by much loved UK style guru Susannah Constantine in her new podcast, My Wardrobe Malfunction. Her guest, businesswoman and actor Elizabeth Hurley, 54, agreed with her - as did Fi and Jane in their Fortunately podcast. All four said they don't wear skirts, with Susannah saying that on the rare occasion when she wore an up-to-date midi with ankle boots, she still looked staid.

You don't agree 

I ran three polls on social media over the weekend, and the answer was overwhelmingly that you like skirts.

I certainly do - see above, some of my recent skirt outings.  But there are definitely some do's and don'ts for skirts, to avoid that middle-aged look.

My skirt essentials

I wear skirts a lot. I love their versatility. One skirt can give you so many different looks depending on your boots, tights - chunky or sheer; knitwear, jacket, jewellery and so on.

In the summer, I dig out my old Boden floral skirts and wear them around the house. In winter, I buy a couple of new skirts each season to reflect latest trends, and they're always in good quality fabrics.  If midi skirts are "in," we will only look mumsy and old-fashioned in the lengths that are "out."

Skirts need to be comfortable, so I avoid any with fussy embellishments or frills that are not pleasant to sit on. I like skirts made of soft (not stiff) velvet. My shape best suits streamlined so I try to avoid voluminous fabric, and pleats. I approach skirts made of materials like satin with caution because they can highlight lumps and bumps, and no-one wants to have to wear Spanx.

I don't always get it right. The green skirt in the photo above is currently listed on eBay because while it had waist ties, which I thought would be flattering, it has too much fabric and swamps me.

Similarly the black asymmetric skirt has hardly been worn because it's a very heavy gabardine fabric and too big around the waist.  A skirt which is too loose is hugely unflattering unless you wear a belted top over it.

I try to keep the look streamlined. It's essential to draw attention to your waist.  Even if you don't have one, you can create an illusion with wide belts and cropped cardigans.

Oversize tops equals danger 

Susannah, I suspect, was probably wearing an oversize knit with her midi skirt. Only the very tiny can pull this off.  Victoria Beckham looked good when she wore a massive sweater over very wide baggy trousers.  But she is tiny everywhere, whereas on most of us this just makes us look wide - and old. Long cardigans can look good, provided they're not too chunky and are worn with a belt.

I love to wear imaginative hosiery, in winter, and funky footwear. Keeping it age appropriate, wear what's current on your feet.  The Doc Marten type boots which all the young women at work are wearing is a step too far for me, but I loved the trainer trend last summer.  Lately I've been wearing my skirts with different colored ankle boots which always attract comments. Long boots are best kept for shorter skirts. Worn with midi skirts, they remind me of the 80s.  If a current trend was something I wore "back in the day," I try to avoid it second-time round, or wear it differently.

Colorful, patterned or sparkly tights are also great for funking up your look.

Don't forget jewellery

Another way to make your skirt look contemporary is to wear latest trends in jewellery. Heritage jewellery always looks ageing, as do scarves, which are rarely worn by young women. The big jewellery trend at the moment is the "neckmess," a seemingly random selection of fine necklaces, pearls and pendants worn at the same time.

Not looking matronly in skirts:  Sarah Jessica Parker and fashion influencers over 40

Here's some over-40s skirt inspo.  From left to right:
Sarah Jessica Parker has a tiny waist so this skirt looks wonderful on her, and is perfect for special occasions.

Blogger Kat Farmer,  @doesmybumlook40, wears a draped leopard print skirt, which will flatter most shapes, and adds some cool touches with her boots, necklaces and sunglasses.

Monochrome orange is an unusual choice but the tie-waist skirt, high heels and tiny bag add balance to a just below the knee skirt, worn by influencer Renata Jazdzyk, @venswifestyle.

Finally influencer Mette, @msorrig, pulls off some stellar layering over a pleated skirt and adds the funky edge of unfastened boots.

What are your skirt rules for your shape?  Or do you find dresses and trousers more flattering or appealing to wear?  Let us know in the comments.

Happy Hump Day - it's time for #WowOnWednesday. Last week's most clicked post was "Khaki Silk Skirt and Strappy Sandals" at Looking Fabulous @ Fifty.  There's a great story behind Anna's silk skirt and it just goes to show that patience pays off!

A silk khaki skirt worn with strappy sandals by over-50s blogger Anna Marcus, as shown on Is This Mutton #WowOnWednesday

I enjoyed Ellibelle's post "Fashion Over Forty: Black, Gray and Denim with a Touch of Cognac" because she was wearing an ideal outfit for the transitional weather that we're hopefully going to be experiencing soon.  It's still a bit cold in the UK but the days are rapidly getting longer and lighter, so Ellibelle's outfit featuring jeans, furry boots and a sweater and vest,  (or gilet as we would say in the UK), is ideal for warding off the chills now.

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  1. Gosh how disappointing of Sussanah! She surely doesn't know that it's not the clothing but our aditude that makes outfits look frumpy or stylish. That says enough about her and the other women!

  2. I think it depends on the type of skirt, the length, what's worn with it (especially shoes/boots, tights) and how it looks on the individual. Gok Wan's advice to petites like me is to wear a skirt as short as "possible". I agree but I interpret "possible" as a shorter length that doesn't look inappropriate or ridiculous! Frankly, jeans, athleisure/sporty style gives an "ageless" look.

  3. I find it shocking that they were so broadsweeping. Interesting what they thought and they were consistent. Still normal people like us will wear what we like


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